Volume 2, Issue 32
August 6, 2009

Statins damage your muscles —
even if they don't hurt

Doctors have always known that statin drugs damage muscles, often permanently. But the drug company PR departments have always insisted that this complication is rare. Now, a new study shows that the damage that these drugs cause happens much more often than anyone previously imagined. And it gets worse.

The study also shows that the blood test that doctors have always relied upon to determine if any muscle damage is occurring is not accurate.

So it's quite possible that if you're on a statin drug and have any discomfort at all in any part of your body, the drug may be causing your pain. And it may be doing it even if your doctor insists the tests say otherwise.

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The article starts off stating, "Many patients taking statins often complain of muscle pain and weakness. The extent to which muscle pain reflects muscle injury is unknown." Doctors often dismiss muscle pain associated with statin therapy as a minor adverse effect, the researchers noted. But is it? That's what they planned to find out.

They looked at a total of 83 patients. Of those, 44 were on statins, and were complaining of muscle pains. Another 19 were on the drugs and had no complaints at all. They held the other 20 patients out as controls — they were not using statin drugs. All of the patients underwent a muscle biopsy.

A muscle biopsy is where a doctor will use a needle to pierce the muscle in the front of the thigh and collect a tissue sample. Then they examined the muscle tissue under a microscope. They looked for changes that would indicate damage to the muscle fibers. Here's what they discovered.

Of the 44 patients who were complaining of pain, 25 suffered significant damage to their muscle tissue. That's a whopping 57%! Why didn't they all show signs of muscle injury? The authors didn't know. It probably was because they had not been taking the drugs long enough for the effects to show up. But here's the real kicker.

The blood test that doctors use to determine if patients on statin drugs have muscle damage is the creatine phosphokinase level test. Of those 25 patients with known muscle damage, 96% had levels of creatine phosphokinase in the acceptable range. Only one had a positive test.

So if this study is any indication of what is going on in general, this means that up to 96% of those people who are destroying their muscles by using statin drugs will be told by their doctors that nothing is wrong. But that's still not all.

Remember, the 19 patients taking the statin drugs that did not have muscle pain? Surely these patients do not need to worry about muscle damage. After all, how could you have significant damage to your muscle tissue and not feel it? Well, it turns out that you can. Even patients who take these drugs and have no pain at all are not safe. In this study, 5% came up with biopsies showing muscle damage. So here's the point.

Right now, in cities all over these U.S., thousands of people on statin drugs are damaging their muscles, sometimes permanently, and don't even know it. If you are taking statins, now is the time to get off of them. There are much better ways to protect your heart — ways that actually protect your heart instead of damage it. You can read all about these on my website and in the special reports you receive when you subscribe to my newsletter. If you're not a subscriber, just follow this link to sign up today.

Finding your Real Cures,

Frank Shallenberger, MD


Daubenmier JJ, Weidner G, Sumner MD, Mendell N, Merritt-Worden T, Studley J, Ornish D. The contribution of changes in diet, exercise, and stress management to changes in coronary risk in women and men in the multisite cardiac lifestyle intervention program. Ann Behav Med. 2007 Feb;33(1):57-68.

Dewell A, Weidner G, Sumner MD, Chi CS, Ornish D. A very-low-fat vegan diet increases intake of protective dietary factors and decreases intake of pathogenic dietary factors. J Am Diet Assoc. 2008 Feb;108(2):347-56.

Frattaroli J, Weidner G, Merritt-Worden TA, Frenda S, Ornish D. Angina pectoris and atherosclerotic risk factors in the multisite cardiac lifestyle intervention program. Am J Cardiol. 2008 Apr 1;101(7):911-8. Epub 2008 Jan 28.

Mohaupt MG, et al "Association between statin-associated myopathy and skeletal muscle damage" CMAJ 2009; 181: E11- E18.

Pischke CR, Weidner G, Elliott-Eller M, Ornish D. Lifestyle changes and clinical profile in coronary heart disease patients with an ejection fraction of <or=40% or >40% in the Multicenter Lifestyle Demonstration Project. Eur J Heart Fail. 2007 Sep;9(9):928-34. Epub 2007 Jun 14.

Pischke CR, Weidner G, Elliott-Eller M, Scherwitz L, Merritt-Worden TA, Marlin R, Lipsenthal L, Finkel R, Saunders D, McCormac P, Scheer JM, Collins RE, Guarneri EM, Ornish D. Comparison of coronary risk factors and quality of life in coronary artery disease patients with versus without diabetes mellitus. Am J Cardiol. 2006 May 1;97(9):1267-73. Epub 2006 Mar 10

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